Google tests its Power and takes a shot at Intel

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2016 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: google, Intel, power9, zaius

Not too long ago Google revealed it had updated the code that runs behind its popular web based services to make it more hardware agnostic.  With a trivial tweak to the code their software can switch between running on Intel x86, IBM Power or 64-bit ARM cores.  On Friday Google Cloud's technical program manager, John Zipfel, provided more information on the OpenCAPI compliant Zaius P9 server that is in development and revealed it will use an IBM Power 9 chip.  As it will be OpenCAPI, it will use interconnects such as NVIDIA's NVLink or AMD's as yet unnamed fabric interconnect but will not leverage Intel's.  The Register has a bit more information on Google's plans and the Zaius here.

maurice-evans-as-dr-zaius-in-planet-of-the.jpg

"Google has gently increased pressure on Intel – its main source for data-center processors – by saying it is "looking forward" to using chips from IBM and other semiconductor rivals."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Intel Optane (XPoint) First Gen Product Specifications Leaked

Subject: Storage | October 14, 2016 - 08:05 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Optane, 8000p, Intel

Intel and Micron jointly launched XPoint technology over a year ago, and we've been waiting to see any additional info ever since. We saw Micron demo a prototype at FMS 2016, and we also saw the actual prototype. Intel's last demo was not so great, later demos were better), and we saw a roadmap leaked a few months ago. Thanks to another leak, we now have specs for one of Intel's first Optane products:

intel-optane-memory-8000p.jpg

Now I know there is a bunch of rambling around the net already. "Why so small?!?!". What I think we are looking at is Stony Beach - Intel's 'Application Accelerator" seen here:

intel-octane-ssd-roadmap.jpg

What further backs this theory is that you'll note the PCIe 3.0 x2 link of that product in the above roadmap, which couples nicely with the upper end limits seen in the 32GB product, which is clearly hitting a bandwidth limit at 1.6 GB/s, which is the typical max seen on a x2 PCIe 3.0 link.

DSC03304.JPG

Now with the capacity thing aside, there is another important thing to bring up. First gen XPoint dies are 128 Gbit, which works out to 16 GB. That means the product specs for the 16GB part are turning in those specs *WITH ONE DIE*. NAND based SSDs can only reach these sorts of figures by spreading the IO's across four, eight, or more dies operating in parallel. This is just one die, and it is nearly saturating two lanes of PCIe 3.0!

Another cool thing to note is that we don't typically get to know how well a single die of anything will perform. We always have to extrapolate backwards from the smaller capacities of SSDs, where the dies are the bottleneck instead of the interface to the host. Here we have the specs of one die of a product. Imagine what could be done with even wider interfaces and more dies!

DSC02095.jpg

XPoint fills the still relatively large performance gap between RAM and NAND, and does so while being non-volatile. There are good things on the horizon to be enabled by this technology, even if we first see it in smaller capacity products.

Podcast #421 - iPhone 7, Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!

Subject: Editorial | October 13, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: XG-U2008, western digital, video, stratix, ssd, podcast, nvidia, msi, kaby lake, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, drobo, asus, apple, 5c

PC Perspective Podcast #421 - 10/13/16

Join us this week as we discuss our review of the iPhone 7, the Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:22:35

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Today’s episode is brought to you by Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: UE Boom 2
    2. Jeremy: Hee hee, you really want Win7?
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Intel Launches Stratix 10 FPGA With ARM CPU and HBM2

Subject: Processors | October 10, 2016 - 02:25 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Intel, FPGA, Cortex A53, arm, Altera

 Intel and recently acquired Altera have launched a new FPGA product based on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate process featuring an ARM CPU, 5.5 million logic element FPGA, and HBM2 memory in a single package. The Stratix 10 is aimed at data center, networking, and radar/imaging customers.

The Stratix 10 is an Altera-designed FPGA (field programmable gate array) with 5.5 million logic elements and a new HyperFlex architecture that optimizes registers, pipeline, and critical pathing (feed-forward designs) to increase core performance and increase the logic density by five times that of previous products. Further, the upcoming FPGA SoC reportedly can run at twice the core performance of Stratix V or use up to 70% less power than its predecessor at the same performance level.

Intel Altera Stratix 10.jpg

The increases in logic density, clockspeed, and power efficiency are a combination of the improved architecture and Intel’s 14nm FinFET (Tri-Gate) manufacturing process.

Intel rates the FPGA at 10 TFLOPS of single precision floating point DSP performance and 80 GFLOPS/watt.

Interestingly, Intel is using an ARM processor to feed data to the FPGA chip rather than its own Quark or Atom processors. Specifically, the Stratix 10 uses an ARM CPU with four Cortex A53 cores as well as four stacks of on package HBM2 memory with 1TB/s of bandwidth to feed data to the FPGA. There is also a “secure device manager” to ensure data integrity and security.

The Stratix 10 is aimed at data centers and will be used with in specialized tasks that demand high throughput and low latency. According to Intel, the processor is a good candidate for co-processors to offload and accelerate encryption/decryption, compression/de-compression, or Hadoop tasks. It can also be used to power specialized storage controllers and networking equipment.

Intel has started sampling the new chip to potential customers.

Intel Altera Stratix 10 FPGA SoC.png

In general, FPGAs are great at highly parallelized workloads and are able to efficiently take huge amounts of inputs and process the data in parallel through custom programmed logic gates. An FPGA is essentially a program in hardware that can be rewired in the field (though depending on the chip it is not necessarily a “fast” process and it can take hours or longer to switch things up heh). These processors are used in medical and imaging devices, high frequency trading hardware, networking equipment, signal intelligence (cell towers, radar, guidance, ect), bitcoin mining (though ASICs stole the show a few years ago), and even password cracking. They can be almost anything you want which gives them an advantage over traditional CPUs and graphics cards though cost and increased coding complexity are prohibitive.

The Stratix 10 stood out as interesting to me because of its claimed 10 TFLOPS of single precision performance which is reportedly the important metric when it comes to training neural networks. In fact, Microsoft recently began deploying FPGAs across its Azure cloud computing platform and plans to build the “world’s fastest AI supercomputer. The Redmond-based company’s Project Catapult saw the company deploy Stratix V FPGAs to nearly all of its Azure datacenters and is using the programmable silicon as part of an “acceleration fabric” in its “configurable cloud” architecture that will be used initially to accelerate the company’s Bing search and AI research efforts and later by independent customers for their own applications.

It is interesting to see Microsoft going with FPGAs especially as efforts to use GPUs for GPGPU and neural network training and inferencing duties have increased so dramatically over the years (with NVIDIA being the one pushing the latter). It may well be a good call on Microsoft’s part as it could enable better performance and researchers would be able to code their AI accelerator platforms down to the gate level to really optimize things. Using higher level languages and cheaper hardware with GPUs does have a lower barrier to entry though. I suppose ti will depend on just how much Microsoft is going to charge customers to use the FPGA-powered instances.

FPGAs are in kind of a weird middle ground and while they are definitely not a new technology, they do continue to get more complex and powerful!

What are your thoughts on Intel's new FPGA SoC?

Also read:

Source: Intel

MSI Will Support Kaby Lake Processors On All 100-Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 6, 2016 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: Z170, msi, kaby lake, Intel B150, Intel, H110

MSI has announced that it will be supporting Intel's next generation "Kaby Lake" LGA 1151 processors via a BIOS update. The company has updated its website with the new UEFI/BIOS updates that add support for Kaby Lake on all of its 100-series motherboards.

MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM.jpg

According to MSI, in addition to Kaby Lake support, the updates improve stability and overclocking potential. Currently, the following Z170, B150, and H110 chipset based motherboards have a BIOS update available.

  • Z170 Motherboards
    • Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION
    • Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM
    • Z170A GAMING M9 ACK
    • Z170A GAMING M7
    • Z170A GAMING M6
    • Z170A GAMING M5
    • Z170A-G45 GAMING
    • Z170A GAMING M3
    • Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON
    • Z170A GAMING PRO
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING 3X
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING R6 SIEGE
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING
    • Z170 KRAIT GAMING
    • Z170I GAMING PRO AC
    • Z170A TOMAHAWK AC
    • Z170A TOMAHAWK
    • Z170M MORTAR
  • B150 Motherboards
    • B150 GAMING M3
    • B150M NIGHT ELF
    • B150M GAMING PRO
    • B150I GAMING PRO AC
    • B150I GAMING PRO
    • B150M MORTAR ARCTIC
    • B150M MORTAR
    • B150M BAZOOKA PLUS
    • B150M BAZOOKA
    • B150M BAZOOKA D3
    • B150M GRENADE
  • H110 Motherboards
    • H110M GAMING
    • H110M GRENADE

To grab the latest bios, head over to https://www.msi.com/support#support_download and use the drop down menus to search for your motherboard model. The BIOS download will be available towards the top of the list of available downloads.

MSI and ASUS have both announced support for Kaby Lake on their existing motherboards which is nice to see. If leaks are true, Intel is readying Z270 Express chipset for release in late 2016 or early 2017, but it is nice to know that you will not have to upgrade the motherboard if you do not want to just to get the latest Intel CPU.

Source: MSI

Be Quiet! Shows Off New Silent Loop AIO Liquid Coolers

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 29, 2016 - 12:38 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooler, Intel, copper radiator, be quiet!, amd, AIO

Be Quiet!, a popular German manufacturer of PC cases and power supplies is jumping into the liquid cooling game with the introduction of its new Silent Loop all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers. Through a partnership with Alphacool, Be Quiet! Is launching three new coolers with 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm radiators. It is not clear exactly when they will be arriving stateside but pricing is approximately $124, $143, and $170 respectively.

be quiet silent loop 280mm AIO water cooler.jpg

The Silent Loop 280 AIO liquid CPU cooler.

The new coolers come clad in all black and feature a new pump design paired with copper cold plates and copper radiators. This is nice to see in the wake of aluminum radiators because using the same metals throughout the loop mitigates the risk of galvanic corrosion that will eventually occur in loops that use mixed metals.

The decoupled reverse flow pump courtesy OEM partner Alphacool.The AIO loop is paired with two Silent Wings 2 fans which use rifle bearings and can spin up to 2,000 RPM. To further set the Silent Loop series apart, Be Quiet! uses a nickel plated CPU cold plate, a radiator with a fill port to allow users to top up the fluids over time, and a reportedly innovative (read: not infringing on Asetek IP) "decoupled reverse flow pump" that spins at 2,200 RPM and allegedly reduces noise to nearly inaudible levels. The pump pulls water into the block and over the cold plate and then pulls it through the pump which is in a sectioned off area of the block.

As for the copper radiators, Be Quiet is using 30mm radiators on the Silent Looop 240 and Silent Loop 280 coolers with two fans side by side and a thicker 45mm radiator on the Silent Loop 120 with two fans in a push-pull configuration. Be Quiet! claims that the 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm coolers can handle wattages of 270W, 350W, and 400W respectively (these numbers are likely with the fans cranked to their maximum speeds heh). The included fans can be controlled via PWM and Be Quiet! includes a Y splitter that allows users to attach both fans to one PWM motherboard header – which is good since the CPU_Fan header is sometimes the only "true" PWM header offered.

The liquid coolers use Philips screws throughout for mounting the radiator, fans, and CPU mount and they are compatible with all the usual Intel and AMD sockets.

Be quiet Silent Loop AIO Water Coolers.jpg

Several sites already have reviews of the new coolers including Kit Guru and Guru3D. According to Leo Waldock from Kit Guru, the Be Quiet! Silent Loop 240 is a "funky and nice piece of hardware" and while it did not blow him away it is competitively priced and performs very closely to the Corsair H100i V2. Out of the box the cooler was reportedly inaudible but with lackluster cooling performance; however, once the fans were cranked up from their normal 1,100 RPM to 1,400 RPM cooling performance greatly improved without sound getting too out of control.

In all it looks good aesthetically and appears to be easy to install. If you are in the market for an AIO and do not need fancy extras (LEDs, monitoring software, ect), the Silent Loop coolers might be worth looking into. Hopefully we can get one in for review so that Sebastian or Morry can take it apart... I mean test it! (heh).

Source: be quiet!

Lenovo's Signature Edition; hold the Superfish, heavy on the RAID

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2016 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Lenovo, linux, signature edition, microsoft

Yesterday we saw the first stories appear about how the malware free Lenovo Signature Editions of mobile devices such as the Yoga 900S and Yoga 710S blocked the installation of Linux and effigies of Microsoft and Lenovo were set afire.  As is common on the interwebs, the true villain was not implicated until the excitable crowd ran off with their pitchforks and torches and let the rest of us research the issue and track it back to Intel.

The issue is that the Intel soft RAID present on these machines is not really compatible with Linux, quite a common issue unfortunately.  Lenovo is not innocent in this however as thee have greatly exacerbated the issue by making it difficult to change your SATA from RAID to AHCI in the BIOS in Windows and impossible in a live boot of Linux.  In order to change your SATA settings Lenovo has decided to let you relive the days of Windows XP, when you had to bash on F6 during the initial installation of Windows to let it know you had a special disk with drivers on it to enable AHCI or RAID mode.  Even better, apparently you have to get in touch with Lenovo to get these drivers and they only work in Windows, of course.

So thanks to the lousy Linux support offered by Intel's soft RAID implementation you cannot install Linux on Signature Editions of some Yoga machines and if you have a need to set your SATA to AHCI, say because of Endpoint Encryption, you need to go through a process that went out with that OS Microsoft wants people to stop using.  If you want to track back the reddit thread and the research that was done to determine the culprit, The Register has compiled a good reference.

article-0-002F0B9C00000258-739_306x423.jpg

"A Reddit thread this morning accuses Microsoft and Lenovo of conspiring to prevent the installation of non-Windows operating systems on the Chinese goliath's PCs at the firmware level. Linux fans vented on the message board about the difficulties of installing open-source distributions on certain Lenovo machines."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Apple Dual-Sourcing Its iPhone 7 Modems

Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 16, 2016 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple

Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.

Apple-logo.jpg

This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.

Source: Fudzilla

Podcast #416 - Intel SSD 600p, Leaked Zen Performance, new iPhone and PS4 and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: Zen, VR, video, ssd, sony, qualcomm, ps4 pro, ps4, prodigy, power9, podcast, phanteks, logitech, iPhone 7, Intel, IBM, gtx 1050, geekbench, Enthoo, corsair, carbide, amd, a10, 600p

PC Perspective Podcast #416 - 09/08/16

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel SSD 600p, Leaked Zen Performance, new iPhone and PS4 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:48:53
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Razer PAX 2016
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

McAfee Antivirus is effective against its own death

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: mcafee, Intel, antivirus

In a strange turn of events it seems that McAfee has risen once again to appear on the marketplace in a move reminiscent of a certain Uncle Duke story line.  Intel has sold their majority stake, worth $3.1bn in cash, to a private equity firm called TPG.  Intel retains 49% of the shares, not quite breaking even on the purchase they made back in 2010 but having seen solid profits from that business while they were running it.  TPG has now renamed itself McAfee and Chris Young, the general manager of Intel Security will be a part of the new team.  Pop by The Register for more on the antivirus company that just keeps coming back, but there is no word as of yet from the company's namesake.

the-crazy-life-of-former-fugitive-and-cybersecurity-legend-john-mcafee.jpg

"Intel is selling off a majority stake in its security software arm – formerly known as McAfee – to private equity firm TPG, which will rename itself to, er, McAfee."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register